Although they often receive little attention, pneumatic tools are used in practically all production plants. High-speed air-driven spindles in particular are among the real energy guzzlers, as the generation of compressed air requires a lot of electrical energy. In this article we take a closer look at this highly topical issue.
Why compressed air spindles?
Despite their poor energy balance, compressed air spindles have several advantages: they are light, compact and relatively inexpensive to purchase. For this reason, their use, especially with hand tools for deburring or part finishing, is almost inconceivable without them.
In addition to these obvious applications, compressed air spindles are also used in various other areas. In particular, many of the corresponding spindles have been installed in special machines and robots in recent years. And since these often operate 24 hours a day, their energy consumption is exorbitant, especially at current electricity prices.
Deflectable, electrically driven deburring spindle
In mid-2021, for example, the 24-hour operation of a compressed air spindle with 300 W power and a speed of 35,000 rpm caused daily energy costs of 10-20 euros. Extrapolation to the current electricity price is up to you.
Take a mental – or physical – walk through your company and see where compressed air spindles are used. And/or have your responsible employees evaluate the energy consumption of your compressed air preparation systems.
Alternative: Electrically operated high-frequency spindle
Electrically operated high-frequency spindles are an extremely sensible alternative, especially for automatically operated systems with built-in spindles. In addition to the incomparably lower energy consumption, these spindles offer further significant advantages over the compressed air-driven versions: load-independent speed stability, possibility of preselecting different speeds, a wide range of monitoring functions, etc. In addition, the electric spindles are completely maintenance-free, whereas with lamina-driven compressed air spindles, wearing parts have to be replaced after a few thousand hours of use.
Conclusion: Conversion is also often worthwhile
Today, it goes without saying that energy consumption is taken into account in new installations. However, this should not only be considered when buying new. It is advisable to also check existing installations from this point of view. Due to the potential savings in energy and maintenance, the costs of a conversion from compressed air to electric spindle can often be amortised in a surprisingly short time.
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